As a travel writer, I hear a lot of reasons not to get off the beaten track these days. “Oh, I won’t go to Campania because of the garbage thing.” “
“I know I’ll save money by going in the off season, but the weather is cool and some rain clouds might form!”
OK, so here’s the thing. You’ve probably never heard of Padula, yet there’s plenty of reason to visit. Here is a picture of its famous, world heritage Certosa, or charterhouse:
The picture was taken in early spring. Rain threatens. Beautiful, no?
The Certosa has an incredible kitchen. It also sports the biggest cloister in the world. It’s the second largest Charterhouse in Italy after the one in Parma. You still haven’t heard of it, have you?
So we’re driving to Campania from Sicily, and encounter this massive traffic jam in the mountains. It takes three hours to go 30km. We’re going to be late to the hotel we’ve reserved in Padula. I get out the mobile phone and call them to tell them we’re going to be late. Perhaps we’ll arrive at 9 in the evening.
It’s no problem. When we get to Padula we check in, go to our room to clean up, then hit the restaurant. A clay pitcher of the house wine made lovingly by the owner awaits us, and the appetizer is laid on the table moments later.
The hotel is extraordinary. When you walk over the transom, you’re stepping on a thick Plexiglas sheet, a window onto an exposed Roman drain pipe.
The restaurant is in a medieval hall, stone-built with lots of nooks and crannies to peer into, one of them featuring a nativity scene called a presepe. It’s dramatically lighted.
Hell on the road becomes bliss; the food, waiting for us is simple and wonderful, the essence of Campania cuisine. The owner’s wine is good after a long and slow road trip.
There is one other couple in the four star hotel we’ve chosen, which sits at the edge of the world heritage Cilento National Park.
We’ve paid 80 Euro for the night. Dinner was 25 each with all the wine we could drink.
You can’t get luxury bargains like this in Rome or Florence. Check out the Hotel Villa Cosilinvm – Padula if you want to experience the bliss of getting off the beaten track. And goodness gracious, go when there are clouds and lower prices around, ya hear?
(Need to see and learn more about this amazing place? see the Padula Map on Mapping Europe.)
Need to know another interesting attraction nearby? How about the Pertosa Caves? See: A Cave Adventure in Campania.
For a map of Campania, click here.